Korean row wors­ens


Shepparton News - - SN WORLD NEWS -

North Korea has fired a mis­sile over Ja­pan and into wa­ters off the north­ern re­gion of Hokkaido, mark­ing a sharp es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions on the Korean penin­sula.

The test, which ap­peared to be a re­cently de­vel­oped in­ter­me­di­ate-range Hwa­song-12 mis­sile, came as Amer­i­can and South Korean forces con­duct an­nual mil­i­tary drills on the penin­sula, against which North Korea stren­u­ously ob­jects.

North Korea has con­ducted dozens of bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests un­der young leader Kim Jong Un, the most re­cent on Saturday, but fir­ing pro­jec­tiles over main­land Ja­pan is rare.

‘‘North Korea’s reck­less ac­tion is an un­prece­dented, se­ri­ous and a grave threat to our na­tion,’’ Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said.

Mr Abe said he spoke to the Unites States’ President Don­ald Trump on Tues­day and they agreed to in­crease pres­sure on North Korea. Mr Trump also said the US was ‘‘100 per cent with Ja­pan’’, Mr Abe said.

The US, Ja­pan and South Korea asked for a United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing to dis­cuss the test.

Ear­lier this month, the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously im­posed new sanc­tions on North Korea in re­sponse to two long-range mis­sile launches in July.

The Ja­panese mil­i­tary did not at­tempt to shoot down the mis­sile, which passed over the coun­try about 6.07 am.

The mis­sile broke into three pieces and fell into wa­ters off Hokkaido, 1180 km east of Cape Erimo. The Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment’s J-Alert sys­tem broke into ra­dio and TV pro­gram­ming, warn­ing ci­ti­zens of the pos­si­ble mis­sile. Bul­let train ser­vices were tem­po­rar­ily halted and warn­ings went out over loud­speak­ers in towns in Hokkaido.

‘‘I was wo­ken by the mis­sile alert on my cell­phone,’’ said Ayaka Nishi­jima, an of­fice worker from Mo­rioka.

‘‘I didn’t feel prepared at all. Even if we get these alerts there’s nowhere to run. It’s not like we have a base­ment or bomb shel­ter, all we can do is get away from the win­dow.’’

South Korea said the mis­sile flew 2700 km, reach­ing an al­ti­tude of about 550 km.

Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for the pres­i­den­tial Blue House in Seoul, said South Korean fighter jets con­ducted bomb­ing drills at a fir­ing ex­er­cise ground after Py­ongyang’s lat­est launch.

Global mar­kets re­acted to the es­ca­la­tion in ten­sions. Ja­pan’s Nikkei 225 in­dex fell al­most one per cent to a near four-month low.

Some ex­perts said Kim was try­ing to pres­sure Washington to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table with the lat­est test.

Ear­lier this month, North Korea threat­ened to fire four Hwa­song-12 mis­siles into the sea near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Pic­ture: EPA/KCNA

Ten­sions flare: A photo from the North Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) shows the sec­ond test-fire of an ICBM Hwa­song-14 at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion in North Korea in July.

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